The Yankees and Pirates have agreed to a deal that will send A.J. Burnett and cash considerations to the Pirates for Double-A reliever Diego Moreno and Low-A outfielder Exicardo Cayones, but it turns out there was another team in the mix. A”mystery team,” if you will. And this one might surprise you.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Phillies were involved in talks for Burnett before a deal was finally reached with Pittsburgh. This probably never had a realistic chance of happening, as the Phillies would have had to find a home for Joe Blanton (likely paying part of his $8.5 million salary) in order to make a deal work. No takers, apparently.
I’d rather have Burnett than Blanton at this point, but adding another $8 million to the payroll for 2013 (like the Pirates will do) when the Phillies already have approximately $108 million committed might not have been the best idea for a team who is hoping to work out an extension with Cole Hamels. They need all the flexibility they can get.
The big takeaway here is that the Phillies are looking to trade Blanton and currently seek an upgrade for their rotation. Blanton was limited to just 41 1/3 innings last season due to an elbow injury, so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to unload him unless he can prove healthy and effective during spring training. Of course, Roy Oswalt will probably sign somewhere by then, so it’s unclear where an upgrade would come from. But Ruben Amaro, Jr. has a habit of surprising us.
The Marlins will hold a news conference on Monday, per a team announcement. The exact nature of the conference has not yet been disclosed, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro speculates that it is likely to focus on Víctor Víctor Mesa and Víctor Mesa Jr., two brothers and outfield prospects who have been linked to the organization over the last several weeks. CEO Derek Jeter and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are expected to be in attendance.
Víctor Víctor Mesa, 22, stands out as an above-average defender in center field and a premier talent in the international market. According to reports following the brothers’ workout at Marlins Park in early October, Víctor Víctor carries plenty of power potential at the plate, though it’s not yet clear how that will translate to in-game opportunities. The young outfielder produced a lifetime .279/.329/.371 batting line, 11 home runs, 76 stolen bases, and a .701 OPS over six seasons with the Matanzas and Industriales of the Cuban National Series and the Cuban national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
There’s more uncertainty around 17-year-old Víctor Mesa, Jr., who was noted by scouts for his athleticism and above-average arm during the international prospects’ showcase several weeks ago. He previously played for Cuba’s 18U national team and appears to have potential in the outfield as well.
An additional report from Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald clarifies that the Mesa brothers have already been in Miami for the past few days and are thought to have undergone the medical examinations necessary to sign with the team. If that’s the case, the club is in position to announce the signings next week. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds that Víctor Víctor Mesa could command a signing bonus upwards of $5 million, while Víctor Mesa Jr. stands to receive something in the ballpark of $1 million.